D&D General How to reboot the Forgotten Realms (+)

jgsugden

Legend
Maybe it's an unpopular opinion lately, but I actually like the Forgotten Realms setting. However, every time I start a campaign set in the Realms I see myself going back to the Old Grey Box. The amount of lore current FR has is overwhelming, and I think it would benefit from a reboot (soft or not)....
I use the original Grey Box for all of my FR games - which are few and far between, but it is easier to learn one set of lore than the lore of decades of development that is often inconsistent.

I believe WotC should take the Eberron approach to all of their settings. In Eberron, each time they release it for a new edition, they still focus on the same date for setting. The campaign world is designed to support adventuring at that point in time. They should pick a point in time for Greyhawk, Dark Sun, FR, Krynn, etc ... and always build to support that moment of peak story development.
 

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James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
The Wall of the Faithless addresses not just why you should have a patron God, but why you should act in a faithful way. In the novels, one of the protagonists dies, ends up on the Fugue Plain, called out to Torm, but he had lost his faith. So it's a little more than "you need to have a God", but that you earn the afterlife you get in life.

The problems are that you have to have faith in a particular God. No worshipers of concepts or philosophies here! No pantheon priests (more on this in a minute) either. And upthread, I mused about what happens to those who have faith in dead Gods, usurper Gods, or Gods who don't want to be worshiped at all.

If you read Realms lore (and oh boy, have I ever), you'll find snippets like how Umberlee isn't so much worshiped as she is feared, and sailors will offer tributes to her upon starting a voyage so that she won't sink their vessels.

This doesn't make them her faithful! In fact, they may worship other Gods, like Valkur. They make offerings to Umberlee because it make sense. In fact, in a society with so many Gods of different things, it makes logical sense to pay respect to the relevant deity.

You don't pray to Tempus to heal the sick. Or pray to Chauntea for protection in battle. You don't pray to Gond when you're lost in the woods. Nor do you pray to Mask to inspire you to create great works of art. The common man offers to the relevant God.

And thus, priests who serve whole pantheons would just make sense. But they don't, because in the Realms, you have to have a patron deity.

It gets better when classes that don't need to worship Gods are shoehorned into doing so as well. Paladins, Rangers, even Druids have their own Gods that give them their powers (even the Earthmother was revealed to be another God in disguise- something that is quite common in the Realms).

Of course that has waxed and waned over the years; Primal Druids and 4e Rangers didn't get powers from Gods. And it looks like the new Druids won't either, but we'll just pretend that Druids devoted to Silvanus aren't a thing, lol.

Ultimately, very few people should go to the Wall of the Faithless anyways; if you're evil, the forces of the lower planes aren't very picky about souls; you get dragged down to the depths, and if you're lucky, you might become a new demon or devil someday!

Of course this means that the people in the Wall of the Faithless are GOOD and Neutral people who didn't hitch their wagon to a star.

The Wall of the Faithless existing as a punishment isn't the real problem in of itself; if it takes beings of divine power to create afterlives, then it follows that you have to earn your place in one.

And a God of the Dead getting all the souls that aren't claimed (or stolen, see my comment about fiends) is logical enough.

The real issues with the Wall is that one, it presents a possibility for someone to fall through the cracks, and end up there for no Good reason. And two, it tells the player that they have to select a made up God and present more than token faith to that God's precepts, or they can never be so much as revivified after falling in battle.

Given that the Forgotten Realms is the premier setting of D&D these days, forcing made up religion on people is the exact kind of thing people who don't understand role-playing games will pounce upon. It's no wonder Wizards won't acknowledge it one way or another!

Nobody wants another Panic.
 

S'mon

Legend
Personally, my greatest issue with the wall of the faithless isn’t whether it should exist or not; it’s that people have to choose a patron god period, in turn insinuating that inhabitants (and PC) can ignore the other gods and dedicate their faith to one or a few gods and goddesses. I haven’t seen a lot of players make a prayer to Auril not because she’s their patron goddess (or even an ally of their patron) but because they need her blessing to survive their winter trek, or the bad guys praising Helm before standing watch.

I can’t remember how religion was handled in 1st ed but I have a feeling it wasn’t that different back then from the way it is now, which is more a collection of many religions that acknowledge but barely tolerate each other rather than a polytheistic religion.
Agree 100%. I remember I had to tell a player whose PC Ranger followed Mielikki that it was 'ok' to pray to Kelemvor as part of getting a dead companion Raised by a Kelemvor priestess! The complete lack of understanding of how polytheism works, the treating of each deity as their own mini-monotheism, evil gods treated more like demons. I find it weird and offputting. I do my best to rectify this in my own games.
 

Mirtek

Hero
I think it's more about telling someone that their character has to worship a God (even a made-up one). It also makes me wonder what happens with people who falsely worshiped Cyric (who co-opted some faiths, like Leira) or Ao-cultists when they died.
Ao cultists go to the wall, deceived worshippers get cashed in by their deceiver
 


Cergorach

The Laughing One
I really like Forgotten Realms because it has been so fleshed out, but still huge and allows you to do your own thing without much effort.

Back in them olden days when Jim Butler's company scanned and sold all the D&D books for $2.99/book I bought pretty much everything and created a FR pdf catalog for quickly searching all the FR pdfs. That was Extremely useful for running a FR adventure and campaign. Add to that the FR Interactive Atlas and I could do pretty much anything with FR. I think I even used it to run the fan made Northern Journey campaign with the bits and pieces Eric Noah collected on this site for 3E, as a 3E campaign.

I really liked the information dense 3e FR core book. And the maps! Or the even bigger maps from Dragon Magazine! Although I did not like everything they did in/for 3E or in the FR novels.

I really dislike the 100 year leap they did for 4E and 5E progressing from there is not something I like either. Just as I don't like all the 'new' default species options in the PHB like Dragonborn, Half-Orc, Tiefling, etc. Don't get me wrong, I loved the 2E Complete Book of Humanoids! But I just don't want those as default PC options, just as I don't like Drow being a default PC option (although Drizzt spoiled it for everyone!)...

Now, with looking at 5E, Baldur's Gate 3, etc. I don't see a FR happening from WotC. Now, I understand the '+' of this thread, so I interpret that as a fan made reboot of FR.

From that perspective I would personally fit the reboot to the group you're playing with and having a huge digital library for that makes things easy. You just add notes to the source material or compile a whole new player guide. I'm actually curious if you could feed something like ChatGPT FR lore, set restrictions and just let it generate a whole new guide for you...

From DMing 3(.5)E I would start with a restrictions list for whatever rule set you're playing with, which books the players use, what is restricted in each of those books. With me (our group) things might be discussed, but they would need to have a very good reason for that and everyone would need to be OK with that. Define a starting year and which big events that didn't happen. Chances are that some know something of FR and their assumptions need to be addressed. What that is exactly, totally depends on who you're playing with imho.

The Wall of the Faithless goes. This is not open to negotiation.
Depending on who you run with, this could totally stay. I'm Agnostic and do not find this offensive at all. It was after all made by an evil god. I could even introduce something like Faith of the Void, which does exactly what people believe it does or it might not (might be a deceiver at play). The players don't know, nor do their characters, especially not at low level. If they are plane hopping at high levels, the might be confronted by Demons wanting to raid the wall for souls. Good, Evil or Neutral organizations (possibly backed by certain deities) that want to abolish the wall. Again, depending who you're playing with this can be the main plot device to just being there in the background. Or if I'm playing with people who are as adamant about it as you are, it might just not exist at all.
 

Osgood

Adventurer
I'm getting ready to start a FR campaign in the Grey Box era, set in the Dales. I made one minor modification that the Time of Troubles allegedly happened a few hundred years ago so that Cyric and Kelemvor can be around because I like them as gods, but they are fairly minor faiths.

We just had a session zero, but my biggest problem is keeping people off the FR wiki! I gave them a short packet of setting info, but no matter how many times I tell them to come to me for more info, they keep saying "no, according to the wiki..." Sigh. Yeah, that's in the post Spellplague Realms, plus I'm fiddling with things here and there! You know what I'd pay extra money for on DDB? Official campaign setting wikis that had a toggle for the era, that you could customize for your campaign. Maybe with a nice google maps style map that could zoom in and out to whatever level you need. Monetize me that way WotC!
 

Kaodi

Hero
Fantasy RPG seems like a bit of an odd choice for a pasttime if you desperately need the setting to affirm your real world anti-religious beliefs. Besides, if you think the Wall of the Faithless is bad wait until you hear about captured souls being explicitly eaten and destroyed.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Hmmm.

I think I’d do a best of sort of reboot.

Kelemvor stays, including the legend of him having once been a cursed human.

Mystra, Mystryl, and Midnight, are the three-formed goddess of magic, secrets, and divination, similar to Hecate but very FR.

Combine elements of various catastrophes into a “Sundering”, that preserves things like the current Unther/Tymanchabar situation, the existence of 3 dead evil gods that have found sneaky ways to not be dead, and other stuff that I happen to like from the various catastrophes without needing a whole chapter of info on all of them. Just one event, maybe 100 years ago, that is one of the setting’s hooks, and has no canon explanation.

Keep the 4e prominence of genasi, Dragonborn, and tieflings, and the 5e Acquisitions Incorporated stuff.

Keep Maztica but rewrite it from the ground up to be a Mesoamerican inspired region but with Amnian and Calimsham trade bastions on the coast that were often the focal point of Amnian war-crimes until a broad revolution of those cities that left them independent and working to find a new path into the future.

The Lords Alliance has been in place for a few centuries, is genuinely the ruling body of the Sword Coast with no accountability, and there are whispers of revolution along the Sword Coast.

Mask is the god of thieves, avengers (as in assassins who kill for a cause), in contrast to Cyric who is the god of murder, hired killers, etc.

Myth Drannor is more like 4e than 2e.

There are earthmotes, airships, etc, and the smokepowder firearms that have shown up in 5e adventures.

Netheril is back, but there is a rebellious faction, and the people of the region didn’t just decide “we’re Netherese now”, they’ve kept a lot of thier culture and influenced Netherese culture especially in the cities other than the main flying city, which is rename Night or soemthing, I’ve always hated the city of shade.

Focus just as much on the heartlands and sea of fallen stars as on the Sword Coast.

Kingdom of Many Arrows is a thriving state that welcomes outcasts and regularly challenges the Lords Alliance.

Lolthite Drow are basically Drow supremecist extremists, while other Drow focus on other of the dark seldarine. Related, only Llolth is exiled from the seldarine. Her children have a tenuous place there, and Eilistraee is a consort of Sehanine.

I’d reduce emphasis on a lot of the primary gods, recontextualize them as human, halfling, genasi, etc gods, and make the primary deities a mix of different folks’ gods, like Sehanine is the primary moon deity, and Selune is the human moon goddess, etc.

Rework the big NPCs as the kind of characters whose prime is past or who are running organizations now or the like, and who just aren’t the sort of beings you’d go find to go fix the demon incursion, but rather who might recruit you to do it.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Amn, Tethyr, and Calimshan are the one region where I am a bit on the fence. They are certainly more developed than the rest of southern Faerun and there is material on them from very early on.
But I personally feel that Amn and Tethyr don't really have anything interesting going for them, and a random Arabian country in a setting that is otherwise North/Central/Eastern Europe seems out of place.
I think thematic focus is always good for a setting, and trying to make it a setting for everyone that covers everything imaginable is what made the world bloat like it did in the first place.

I can see Calimshan having its fans, but I would leave it out being its own thing. (Which I believe Zakara was supposed to be.)
For me, Calimsham can be an analogue to Al Andalus, rather than to the non-European Islamic world.

Which in turn invites a place like Zakhara, which…yeah, it’s extremely weird to imagine a setting that is just fantasy pseudo-Europe, somehow envisioned as largely untouched by the peoples of other regions.

I wouldn’t fully flesh out Zakhara in the starting product, but Calimsham is great.
 


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